The annual Convocation & Pastors’ School is an intensive two-day conference that offers lectures, worship, and seminars for Christian leaders of all traditions. Led by scholars and practitioners from Duke and beyond, this event is a cooperative endeavor with the North Carolina and Western North Carolina Conferences of the United Methodist Church. The Convocation also includes alumni gatherings.
Neighboring in a Post- Christendom World
- Barbara Brown Taylor, best-selling author, preacher, teacher, and Episcopal priest
- Ian T. Douglas, missiologist and bishop diocesan of The Episcopal Church in Connecticut
- David Goatley, research professor of theology and Black Church studies and director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School
- Elaine Heath, Duke Divinity School professor of missional and pastoral theology
- Cynthia Hale, founder and senior pastor of the Ray of Hope Christian Church, will serve as convocation preacher
What does it mean for Christians to be a neighbor in a culture that is rapidly changing, and in a space where many have little knowledge or interest in religion? Convocation and Pastors’ School will explore how we can practice and communicate Christian faith, spirituality, and hospitality with missional imagination, connecting with the steadfast mission of God. Through lectures, workshops, and discussion, pastors and church leaders will gain insight and energy to build and strengthen Christian community with renewed integrity.
Barbara Brown Taylor
Best-selling author, preacher, teacher, and Episcopal priest
The Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor was recently named among the 12 most effective preachers in the English language by Baylor University’s Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching. She is the author of more than a dozen books, including the New York Times Bestsellers An Altar in the World and Learning to Walk in the Dark, which was featured on the cover of Time magazine. Her book Leaving Church earned her the 2006 Author of the Year award from the Georgia Writers Association. She has served on the faculties of Piedmont College, Columbia Theological Seminary, Candler School of Theology at Emory University, McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University, and the Certificate in Theological Studies program at Arrendale State Prison for Women in Alto, Ga. In 2014 Time included her on its annual list of Most Influential People; in 2015 she was named Georgia Woman of the Year; in 2016 she received The President’s Medal at the Chautauqua Institution in New York.
Ian T. Douglas
Missiologist and bishop diocesan of The Episcopal Church in Connecticut
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Ph.D. is the 15th Bishop Diocesan of The Episcopal Church in Connecticut, serving over 160 parishes and faith communities in the state of Connecticut. From 1989 to 2010 he was a faculty member at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., and the Angus Dun Professor of Mission and World Christianity. Douglas also served as priest associate at St. James' Episcopal Church in Cambridge from 1989-2010.
A sought-after speaker nationally and internationally, Douglas is the author/editor of four books, including Beyond Colonial Anglicanism: The Anglican Communion in the Twenty-First Century with Kwok Pui-Lan, and numerous academic and popular articles on the topics of mission, the missional church, contemporary Anglicanism, and world Christianity. Douglas earned his M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School and his Ph.D. in missiology from Boston University.
Research professor of theology and Black Church studies and director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School
The Rev. Dr. David Goatley joins the faculty of Duke Divinity School in July 2018. He previously served as CEO of the Lott Cary Baptist Foreign Mission Society and as adjunct professor of Global Leadership at the Samuel Dewitt Procter School of theology at Virginia Union University. Goatley is a constructive theologian whose scholarship and practice is at the intersection of ecclesiology, missiology, Black Theology, and leadership strategy. A globally recognized missiologist, he emphasizes cross-cultural experiential learning with indigenous communities to deepen understanding, broaden horizons, and strengthen Christian discipleship and leadership formation. He is ordained in the National Baptist Convention, and has served in leadership capacities with the NAACP, the Baptist World Alliance, and the World Council of Churches.
In addition to writing articles, essays, and book chapters, Goatley is editor of Black Religion, Black Theology: Collected Essays of J. Deotis Roberts and authored Were You There?: Godforsakenness in Slave Religion, A Divine Assignment: The Missiology of Wendell Clay Somerville, and Missions Is Essential. His current research projects include leadership development informed by liberation theology, contemporary missiology and strength-based organizational theory, Black Baptist missiology, and African-American pneumatology.
Professor of missional and pastoral theology at Duke Divinity School
The Rev. Dr. Elaine Heath's scholarly work integrates systematic, pastoral, and spiritual theology in ways that bridge the gap between academy, church, and world. Her research interests focus on evangelism and spirituality, evangelism and gender, the new monasticism, and emergence in church and in theological education. Heath is the author of numerous books and monographs, the most recent of which is Five Means of Grace: Experience God's Love the Wesleyan Way. She is also the co-founder of the Missional Wisdom Foundation, which provides opportunities for clergy and laity to learn how to live in intentional communities and learn how to develop missional communities and social enterprise in diverse social contexts. Her other publications include God Unbound: Wisdom from Galatians for the Anxious Church, Missional.Monastic.Mainline (co-authored with Larry Duggins), The Mystic Way of Evangelism, Naked Faith: The Mystical Theology of Phoebe Palmer, Longing for Spring: A New Vision for Wesleyan Communities (co-authored with Scott Kisker), and We Were the Least of These: Reading the Bible with Survivors of Sexual Abuse. Heath is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, holding her membership in the Western North Carolina Annual Conference. She earned her M.Div from Ashland Theological Seminary and her Ph.D. from Duquesne University. She served as dean of Duke Divinity School from 2016 to 2018.
Founder and senior pastor, Ray of Hope Christian Church
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Hale is the senior pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Georgia, which she founded in 1986, holding worship services in the cafeteria of a local high school. In 2000, the church dedicated its current campus, which includes a 3,500-seat sanctuary. A native of Roanoke, Va., Hale earned a B.A. in music from Hollins University; a M.Div. from Duke University; and a D.Min. degree from United Theological Seminary. She holds five honorary doctorates of divinity and an honorary doctor of law degree. She is also an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and serves on the Duke Divinity's Board of Visitors.
Hale's vision and leadership led her to establish two ministries; Elah Pastoral Ministries, Inc. and the Women in Ministry Conference, Inc. Elah is a mentoring program that assists in the spiritual and practical development of pastors and para-church leaders, and the Women in Ministry Conference is a premiere national conference with a mission to develop, coach, and mentor Christian women in ministry for the 21st century.
Hale is a contributing writer for many books and publications including Power in the Pulpit II: How America’s Most Effective Black Preachers Prepare their Sermons and the preaching resource series Feasting on the Gospels. In January 2010, she authored her first book, I’m A Piece of Work: Sisters Shaped by God.
Seminars Offered Monday and Tueday
Bible Study for Christian Neighbors
Author of Learning to Walk in the Dark and An Altar in the World
Christians eager to engage neighbors of many (and no particular) faiths may come up short when they search their own sacred texts for a blessing. In this workshop we will examine a few pertinent texts for insight, honoring their historical meaning even as we allow the Holy Spirit to refresh their meaning for our own time.
Organizing Religion: Helping the Church take Action
Senior Pastor, Green Street Church (UMC), Winston-Salem
Using the broad outreach ministries of Winston-Salem’s Green Street Church as a model, this seminar will examine principles of community organizing as tools for congregational ministry. Participants will also engage in theological reflections on activism, conflict, and justice ministries.
Spiritual Practices for a New Missional Age
Bishop Diocesan of The Episcopal Church in Connecticut
The realities of post-Christendom require a theological shift from an ecclesiocentric preoccupation with the church to a renewed focus on God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation in the world. In this “new missional age” followers of Jesus are invited to try on ancient/new spiritual practices as we seek to participate in God’s mission in the neighborhood. This workshop will review five spiritual practices for the new missional age and will invite participants to try on dwelling in the Word as one way to listen to and discern God’s leading in these increasingly post-Christendom times.
Making Room for One More
Research Professor of Theology and Black Church Studies, and Director of the Office of Black Church Studies, Duke Divinity School
Does the church have anything to say and show to a world of growing segmentation and fragmentation? Are we destined for reflection, or might we have hope for illumination? This seminar will explore tensions concerning stranger and neighbor and imagine possibilities for reclaiming the spirit of hospitality where some cultures believe in “making room for one more.”
Preaching to Save the Soul of a Nation
Founder and Senior Pastor, Ray of Hope Christian Church, Decatur, Georgia
At a time when we are faced with division and disunity among people, political parties, races, classes, genders and other entities, when the needs of the least of these are becoming more pronounced and injustice and equality for all is lacking, this workshop will explore the ways in which we, as preachers, can reclaim our prophetic voice to speak to the chaos and bring healing and wholeness, unity and cooperation for the good of all people.
On Leadership During Institutional Change
Professor of Missional and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School
The post-Christendom inherited church needs wise, discerning leadership so that it can "keep in step with the Spirit" during rapid culture shift. In this workshop Elaine Heath explores the spiritual challenges for institutional leaders during seasons of necessary change, including the place of the contemplative stance in discernment; identifying the “Accuser's Voice,” authority for ministry “not as the Scribes and Pharisees,” and choosing life.
The Right Posture for Holy Neighboring: Cultural Humility and Cultural Intelligence
Director of Hispanic House of Studies, Duke Divinity School
The political environment as well as the rhetoric and acts of hate in our society makes it difficult for any person to engage in authentic ways with our neighbors. We are so cautious that we prevent ourselves from meaningful and holy friendships—we prevent ourselves from being a good neighbor. Ecclesial spaces are not the exception, we are often very careful of not having “the wrong people” in our pews, that instead of becoming the source of good neighboring, churches become the source of enmity. In this seminar, by taking a close look at the principles of cultural humility and cultural intelligence, participants will learn about the posture needed in order to be a good neighbor that fosters holy neighboring.
Young Adults and Other Mythical Creatures: Ministry and Formation After Christendom
Campus Minister and Young Adult Missioner, The Episcopal Center at Duke University
How is the Good News proclaimed to younger audiences in this time when the influence of established denominations wanes? How can our denominational identities embolden our ministry as Christendom fades into the rear view? Dr. Laurent will lead a conversation of shared wisdom, practice, and ministerial theology for reaching young adults and “nones” in the shifting climate of the 21st century.
Exegeting the Neighborhood
Director of Neighborhood Seminary, Duke Divinity School
The Gospel of John proclaims, “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” This seminar will explore how Christian leaders may equip churches to awaken and join with the Spirit of God in their communities. Drawing upon the biblical theology in the neighborhood story of the woman with the hemorrhage, and lessons learned from the first year of Duke Divinity School’s Neighborhood Seminary pilot in Greensboro, N.C., we will explore ways congregations can learn from and engage with the communities with which they live in order to “move into the neighborhood” with Christ.
The Good Samaritan: Embracing the Interfaith “Other” as Neighbor
Author of For Sabbath's Sake and Saffron Cross
Amid America’s growing religious diversity, the Christian Church has two choices: merely tolerate the “other,” or relate and embrace the “other” as neighbor. Christ, through The Parable of the Good Samaritan, teaches us to choose the latter. How then do we create opportunity and hold space for interfaith conversations with our Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and Atheist neighbors? What is the best way to lift up similarities while still honoring the differences? In this seminar, you’ll learn practical tools to foster conversation and community with various religious traditions, including how to begin and sustain interfaith dialogue with empathy and sincerity. Join us as we explore how to be the kind of neighbor the Gospel teaches us to be.
Learning Lessons from Farmworkers
Programs and Outreach Coordinator, Episcopal Farmworker Ministry, Newton Grove, NC
There are many approaches to establish outreach to a neighboring community, some fruitful, some imposed, yet most often with good intentions. With such efforts we can find our own “experiential bubbles”—our past experiences, our culture, our education—can limit or even obliterate our connection and effectiveness. Recognizing one’s own and our neighbors’ “bubbles” is an important first step in making connection. In this workshop we explore lessons learned in working with communities oft defined as the “other,” particularly the migrant farmworker communities within Eastern North Carolina. Dr. Carabaña will share lessons from the field that he needed to re-learn in the process of discovering God manifest in “neighboring.”
Neighboring Movement: Transforming Communities from the Inside Out
Adam Barlow-Thompson, Matt Johnson and Catherine Johnson
Founders of the Neighboring Movement.org by SoCe Life, Wichita, Kansas
The Neighboring Movement in Wichita, KS, focuses on community transformation through neighboring. Their curriculum, The Good Neighbor Experience, showcases practices to help churchgoers become good neighbors where they live and to reimagine the church's mission as community connector. Their work is centered in asset-based community development (ABCD) and they are practitioners of ABCD in their own neighborhood. Beyond their neighborhood, they create simple tools to help people neighbor through an asset-based lens. Their workshop will focus on the reasons why we should neighbor, and some of the tools church leaders can use to get started right away.
Seminars Offered Monday ONLY
Changing American Religion
Church Vitality Strategist
Professor of Sociology, Religious Studies, and Divinity, Duke Divinity School
Most Americans say they believe in God, and more than a third say they attend religious services every week. Yet studies show that people do not really go to church as often as they claim, and it is not always clear what they mean when they tell pollsters they believe in God or pray. Using sources including his recently revised American Religion: Contemporary Trends, leading researcher Mark Chaves will present timely information about crucial religious developments in diversity, belief, involvement, congregational life, leadership, decline, and polarization. The session will examine and discuss both continuity and change within American religious life.
Called To Be One, Called to Speak Peace
Director of the Center for Reconciliation and Assistant Professor of Christian Theology, Duke Divinity School
Disunity is one of the Church’s deepest wound. Christian division has weakened the Christian witness to the gospel of life in a culture that has normalized exclusion and polarization. Thus, the reconciliation of all things in Christ begins with the reformation of Church. Every reconciler has a vocation to be an ecumenist. In this workshop, participants will reflect on the divine origin of this prophetic vocation, the problematic history which has limited its fulfilment, and consider peacemaking practices that can facilitate its renewal for the sake of the world.
Seminars Offered Tuesday ONLY
Common Tables: A Wesleyan Way of Relational Discipleship
Executive Director of New Faith Communities
What would bands and classes look like in today’s context? The method of the Methodist Church was originally small groups of disciples watching over each other in love. Most modern Methodists, however, have never experienced or been formed in the discipline of relational discipleship. Rather, we have understood discipleship to be a curricular classroom activity. Discover a model of reimagining bands and classes in today’s context, where holy friendships are the theater of prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace.
Witness to the Resurrection: The Gift of Post-Christendom Preaching
Assistant Professor of Homiletics, Duke Divinity School
Acts describes the sermons of early believers whose understandings of identity, power, and authority were disrupted by the resurrection of Christ. In Acts' telling, these disruptions witnessed to the reality and relevance of the risen Jesus. Might post-Christendom preachers re-frame their own struggles around identity, power, and authority as a similar opportunity? Bringing Acts' sermons into conversation with contemporary case studies, this workshop explores preaching's risky witness to a living God.
Lodging reservations should be made directly with Durham hotels.
Several local hotels offer special rates for Convocation & Pastors’ School participants. In order to receive these special rates, please refer to "Duke Divinity School/Convocation & Pastors' School" when you call to reserve your room. Rates cannot be guaranteed after the cut-off dates listed.
Hilton Garden Inn
Rate: $129 per night, plus applicable taxes
Call (919) 286-0774 by Friday, Sept. 7
Hilton Durham near Duke University
Rate: $109/single per night, plus applicable taxes
Call (919) 383-8033 by Friday, Sept. 21
Other properties are also located nearby. We offer the following list as a convenience:
- Courtyard Marriott Durham near Duke, (919) 309-1500
- Durham Marriott at the Civic Center, (919) 768-6000
- Homewood Suites by Hilton, (919) 401-0610
- La Quinta Inn, (919) 401-9660
- Millennium Hotel Durham, (919) 383-8575
- Red Roof Inn, (919) 471-9882
- Sheraton Imperial Hotel, (919) 941-5050
- Staybridge Suites, (919) 401-9800
- University Inn, (919)286-4421
- Washington Duke Inn, (919) 490-0999
Additional hotel information may be found at the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Everyone planning to attend the 2018 Convocation & Pastors’ School should submit their registration in advance, along with the appropriate fees. Your registration for Convocation & Pastors’ School includes access to lectures, seminars, and worship, as well as on-campus shuttles and parking. We will send confirmation upon receipt of your registration information. Event fees are non-refundable.
|Early Bird Rate
Available through Aug. 31
Available Sept. 1-23
Available Oct. 8-9
Reduced rates available for:
The cost of this event is kept minimal due to the generous support of the North Carolina and Western North Carolina Conferences of the United Methodist Church, as well as The Duke Endowment and the Parish Ministry Fund, which provide financial assistance to clergy in support of their ongoing education.
Duke University is committed to providing access to programs for persons with disabilities. If you anticipate needing accommodations or have questions about physical access, please contact (919) 613-5323 in advance of the program.
Audio recordings of the lectures and worship services held during previous sessions of Convocation & Pastors’ School are available for download through iTunes U.
2016: Who Needs Theology? Inside and Outside the Church
Featuring Elaine A. Heath, Norman Wirzba, Ellen F. Davis and panel, Kenneth H. Carter, Jr. and panel, and Brian E. Combs
2015: Body and Belonging
Featuring John Swinton, Claire Wimbush, Deb Richardson-Moore, and William Lee
2014: Life After Christendom: Resident Aliens 25 Years Later
Featuring Stanley Hauerwas, Will Willimon, James Davison Hunter, and Hope Morgan Ward
Due to technical difficulties, recordings of this event are not available.
2013: Renewing the Church
Featuring James K.A. Smith, Jorge Acevedo, Laceye Warner, and Jeremy Troxler
2012: Form/Reform: Cultivating Christian Leaders
Featuring Richard J. Mouw, Andy Crouch, Sarah Coakley, and Prince Raney Rivers
2011: Drawn into Scripture: Arts and the Life of the Church
Featuring Jeremy Begbie, Marilynne Robinson, Anthony Kelley and the BLAK Ensemble, and Lillian Daniel
2010: The Living Witness: Tradition, Innovation, and the Church
Featuring N.T. Wright, Rob Bell, Andy Crouch, and Vashti McKenzie
2009: The Next Generation
Featuring Os Guinness and Philip Jenkins
2008: For Such a Time as This
Featuring L. Gregory Jones, Janice Riggle Huie, Ron Heifetz, Al Gwinn, Greg Palmer, Larry Goodpaster, and Adam Hamilton
2007: Our Daily Bread
Featuring Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, Stanley Hauerwas, Ellen Davis, Janice Virtue, Norman Wirzba, L. Gregory Jones, and Carol Bechtel